Poker Hand Rankings: What Beats What?

Poker Hand Ranking

In Poker games players wager over which hand is best according to a set of rules.

Adarsh Aryan Jan. 4, 2024

Poker is a card game in which players wager over which hand is best according to a set of rules. To win in the game the basic understanding of the card’s ranking is very important as winning and losing depends upon it and it is also easier to make a decision with your call during the bet as understanding the hand ranking will allow you to call, fold or raise according to the hand.

Winner in Various Poker Variants

In poker, hand rankings are crucial to determining the winner in various poker variants. Players aim to create the best possible hand based on a specific set of rules. The following list ranks poker hands from the highest to the lowest:

1. Royal Flush:

  • A, K, Q, J, 10, all of the same suit.
  • The highest poker hand, unbeatable by any other hand.
Royal Flush

2. Straight Flush:

  • Five consecutive cards of the same suit (e.g., 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 of hearts).
  • A straight flush is a powerful hand, just below a royal flush in strength.
Straight Flush

3. Four of a Kind:

  • Four cards of the same rank (e.g., four Js).
  • Also known as "quads," this hand is very strong and challenging to beat.
Four of a Kind

4. Full House:

  • Three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank (e.g., three Qs and two 9s).
  • A full house is a combination of a three-of-a-kind and a pair.
Full House

5. Flush:

  • Five cards of the same suit, not in sequence (e.g., 4, 5, 9, 10, A, all of hearts).
  • A flush consists of cards of the same suit, but not necessarily in a sequence.

6. Straight:

  • Five consecutive cards of different suits (e.g. 5 of clubs, 4 of diamonds, 3 of spades, 2 and A of hearts).
  • A straight is a hand with five cards in a numerical sequence.
Straight hand

7. Three of a Kind:

  • Three cards of the same rank (e.g., three 4s).
  • This hand contains three cards of the same rank, with the other two cards being unrelated.
three of a kind

8. Two Pair:

  • Two sets of pairs (e.g., two As and two 2s).
  • A two-pair hand consists of two different pairs of cards.
two of a pair

9. One Pair:

  • Two cards of the same rank (e.g., two As).
  • A pair is a hand with two cards of the same rank and three unrelated cards.
One Pair

10. High Card:

  • When no player has any of the above hands, the highest card in the hand determines the winner.
  • If no player has a pair or better, the player with the highest individual card wins.
High card

11. Kickers

In standard poker games, the player with the highest-ranked hand wins the pot. If two or more players have hands of the same rank, the winner is determined by comparing the highest side cards, also known as "kickers." If the kickers are also the same, the pot is split among the players with identical hands.


Other Variants

There are many variants of poker being played in the gaming industry right now i.e Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven Card Stud each with its unique set of rules. For example in Omaha, players use two hole cards from the four distributed to them, and by combining it with the other three, the hand is formed.

An in-depth understanding of poker hand rankings is important as it will help to make decisions when a bet is made as you can filter options of bluff, raise, or eventually fold them. To be truly skillful players also take note of the opponent’s hand as well, players even consider that the opponent has even stranger hands allowing them to make strategic decisions during the game.


In conclusion, understanding poker hand rankings is vital for anyone looking to enjoy or excel at the game of poker. Knowing what beats what in a poker hand is the foundation of poker strategy and can lead to success at the poker table. Whether you're playing for fun or in a competitive setting, a solid grasp of hand rankings is essential for a rewarding poker experience.